A subversion of Oh, Crap!, where two characters are having some form of confrontation, and one of them pretends to lose his cool or be scared, giving a false feeling of victory to his opponent, only to immediately reveal he actually is fine. Maybe that character wasn't using his full power until now; maybe the damage he just took isn't that important, or he can just heal easily. Maybe he anticipated what his opponent would do and prepared in consequence. Either way, he wasn't actually worried, and his opponent just didn't take the advantage. Unlike I Surrender, Suckers, Briar Patching or Wounded Gazelle Gambit, there usually isn't any practical reason to do this; the character is just doing it to mess with his opponent.
A Smug Super will frequently love to make use of this trope, as a way to show how much better he is than everybody else. Expect the character to deliver "Just kidding!" while revealing he is fine.
When this trope applies to villains, it often ends up being the subversion for a Villainous Breakdown, and when the tables finally do get turned on the villain, count on them to have a very genuine Oh, Crap! moment. When a hero does it, on the other hand, it can frequently be a way to deliver an effective Shut Up, Hannibal!. From the reader's point of view, this can be used to invoke a Hope Spot, giving a false impression a fight finally is coming to its end. Often combined with Ominous Adversarial Amusement, when the fake panic ends with the person Corpsing In-Universe.
- In an early moment of the fight between Renji and Szayelaporro Granz, Granz briefly pretends to be overwhelmed by Renji's attacks, only to flatly deadpan, "Just kidding," and easily counter them.
- Later in the fight, Mayuri joins in, and what does he do? He stands and watches, only for Szayelaporro to use his power to crush Mayuri's organs and tendons...or so it seems. Mayuri gets up as if nothing happened, decides to belittle everyone present, before informing everyone that he replaced all his organs and tendons with dummies.
Szayelaporro: But I crushed all of your organs and tendons! So why?!? Why Won't You Die?!!
- When the Gotei 13 Captains and the Visoreds all team up to fight Aizen, their combined abilities seem to be overwhelming him. This culminates with Shinji reversing Aizen's perceptions of front and back, allowing Hitsugaya to slip past his defenses and impale him. The normally-unflappable villain reacts with a look of shock...but then it's revealed that Aizen had used his powers of illusion to covertly switch places with poor Momo, who was the actual victim of the heroes' attack.
- Dragon Ball:
- Cell from Dragon Ball Z; after getting hit by Vegeta's Final Flash, he starts apparently panicking and cowering over his wounds. Vegeta laughs at him... and then Cell reminds him he has a Healing Factor. However, before the Final Flash hits, Cell does genuinely panic when he realizes at the last second that it isn't going to be some attack he can simply No-Sell, and even admits that the blast would have been a One-Hit Kill if it had hit square-on.
- Frieza does this in Dragon Ball Super when one of Sidra's goons tries to use Sidra's God of Destruction power to seal him. It fails horribly, Frieza says "just kidding" and quickly turns the tables.
Frieza: [in the dub] And that... is acting.
- Eyeshield 21: The Fall Tournament re-match between the Devil Bats and the White Knights features a long string of scenes with the team's respective quarterbacks Tamaki and Hiruma being shocked by the other team's play... then going "Is that what you expected me to say?" and revealing a countermeasure.
- Fairy Tail: Elfman and Evergreen fight Rustyrose, who wears glasses that prevent Evergreen from turning him to stone with her gaze. Elfman manages to destroy his glasses and he screams in horror as Evergreen looks into his eyes. Then he laughs and says he was joking, beats them up, and reveals he was in no danger because he is a Reality Warper who can instantly conjure up anything, including new glasses.
- Shirou pulls one on Angelica in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA. When he and Chloe take her on, they move to attack with Triple-Linked Crane Wings, the perfect attack of heroic spirit EMIYA that cannot be defended against, knowing that Angelica's only viable response is to again fall back on Flash Air. Indeed she does and as she moves in for the kill she realizes she's lost track of Chloe at which point Shirou's look of shock changes to a knowing smirk as Chloe attacks her through the floor and gives him the opening he needs to truly land the attack and defeat her.
- Edward does this against Father Cornello in Fullmetal Alchemist. He screams when one of Cornello's chimerae bites his leg — then, when Cornello starts to gloat, we see the lion-thing's teeth falling out and Edward triumphantly shows off his automail leg.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- A weird and rather disturbing variation in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency: when Joseph manages to cut off and destroy Esidisi's arm, he expects him to go into a Villainous Breakdown with Unstoppable Rage. Instead, Esidisi starts crying like a baby, before almost instantly regaining his composure. He then explains this is his method of relieving stress. Joseph is suitably creeped out.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable has a more classic example during the fight between Josuke and Red Hot Chilli Pepper. At one point, Josuke manages to trap Chilli Pepper in a tire, blocking his Shock and Awe powers. Chilli Pepper's user immediately starts panicking like he was losing power.. then immediately admits he was just kidding and just pierces through the tire, revealing it was too thin to actually contain his power. This, however, backfires: Josuke actually knew he could pierce the tire and was expecting him to do so. By piercing it, Chilli Pepper is propelled into the water by the pressure. The water promptly shorts Chilli Pepper out.
- Kill la Kill:
- During a fight between Ryuko and Nui Harime, Ryuko manages to grab Nui and stab her in the chest. Nui starts agonizingly coughing blood... then returns to smiling with a "Just kidding!". Cue her ripping her own heart out to reveal she is, like Ryuko, a Life Fiber-human hybrid.
- Later subverted when Ryuko cuts Nui's arms off. Nui fakes shock, before revealing her Healing Factor will cause her arms to grow back... only to find out that Ryuko managed to nullify said Healing Factor when the arms just die, and watch in horror as she steps on the severed arms and absorbs them into Senketsu. Cue a very genuine Villainous Breakdown.
- One Piece:
- Ivankov makes a habit of doing this during a fight. Most notably, his Establishing Character Moment involves someone coming and pointing a bazooka at him, causing him to fake panic then promptly reveal he is in no danger and literally stop the shot with a wink.
- In the second movie, Clockwork Island Adventure, Usopp pulls a fake-out on Skunk One, visibly panicking until the Gasshole can't abort his attack run, then dropping the act and shooting him with a Flame Star at point-blank range.
- Arkana faces Yugi in a duel where the loser will get their legs cut off with a buzz saw. When Arkana loses, he first starts panicking when the buzz saw approaches, then reveals he was kidding because he was carrying the key to the shackles holding him in place all along. It becomes an Oh, Crap! for real when Marik punishes him for losing by first paralyzing him, then making him unable to see or feel the key. He would have died if Yugi hadn't decided to save him.
- Noah panics when Yugi attacks him directly with all three of his magician monsters until he reveals he was kidding and blocks the attacks with a Trap Card.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: In Yusei's first duel with Dark Signer Kiryu, when it looks like Yusei is about to win, Kiryu starts cursing him before revealing he was kidding and blocking the damage with a Trap Card. In the English dub, Kalin Kessler even breaks the fourth wall when he does this.
Kalin: Oh no! I'm done for! [looks at the audience] But seriously, folks. [activates Trap Card]
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
- When Judai destroys Hamon Lord of Striking Thunder with Elemental Hero Shining Flare Wingman, Kagemaru pretends to panic before laughing and revealing that he takes zero damage on the turn Hamon is destroyed.
- Fubiki gets the upper hand in his duel with Yusuke. Yusuke rather pitifully begs Fubiki not to finish him off, until revealing that most of the duel Fubiki experienced was a mere illusion or dream. The duel rewinds to a certain point and then Yusuke defeats him with ease.
- In Kung Fu Panda 3, Kai pretends to succumb to the Wuxi Finger Hold to screw with Po, before pointing out that it only works on mortals.
- In The Rescuers Down Under, McLeach has Cody cornered at the edge of a crocodile-infested lake. Cody warns that his mom will call the Rangers if he goes missing, and McLeach pretends to be scared for a moment before tossing Cody's backpack to the crocodiles so that it seems as if Cody was eaten by them.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man, when Spider-Man faces a criminal for the first time, the thug freaks out and tries to scare him away with a knife. Spider-Man cowers, saying small knives are his one weakness...then promptly and effortlessly webs the thug to the wall.
- Batman (1989): Vicki Vale tosses a pitcher of ice water at The Joker, who starts screaming in pain, even tossing an "I'm melting!" in — but then he turns around and says, "BOO!" and laughs, with his skin-colored makeup now partially washed away by the water to reveal his bleached actual skin underneath for effect to boot.
- Demon Knight: When The Collector is stabbed in the eyes (which kills demons), he screams in horror, then chuckles sadly at his broken sunglasses, "Damn, and I liked those, too."
- Ghost Rider (2007): When the Ghost Rider attempts to use the Penance Stare on Blackheart, Blackheart starts to scream only to chuckle instead. As The Soulless, the Penance Stare is useless on him. Until the climax where he absorbs a crapton of evil souls and in so doing makes himself extra vulnerable to the Penance Stare.
- In Van Helsing, Dracula screams when Van Helsing exposed him to a cross as it causes burns... on the cross. Then he nonchalantly calms himself.
- In The Witches (2020), Grandma triumphantly tells the Grand High Witch that she won't be able to harm anyone again because she has eaten the potion-laced soup and will soon turn into a mouse. The Witch pretends to have a This Cannot Be! shock before dissolving into mocking cackles and reminding Grandma she never ate the soup.
- Downplayed version in Night Watch where, when fighting an equally skilled (and much younger) opponent, Vimes glances behind the other guy and tries to stop his face going into "oh crap" mode. The other guy uses the opening to close for the victory and then gets clobbered by Vimes who was completely faking the reaction.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: After realizing that the inhibitor chip that prevents Spike from attacking humans doesn't register Buffy as fully human, Spike attacks Buffy and briefly pretends to be under the chip's influence.
Spike: The pain! The pain [Beat] is gone!
- In The Vampire Diaries, when being first confronted by Katherine, Bonnie tries to defend herself with the mind attack she typically uses to keep Damon in check. Katherine initially pretends to be affected, only to quickly reveal she is old enough, and as such powerful enough to resist it.
- Daizee Haze became notorious for this tactic in Chikara after she realized most the roster was uncomfortable with wrestling, much less hitting, a woman.
- Shawn Michaels' "Who's your daddy, Montreal?!" promo during his 2005 feud with Hulk Hogan featured two of this. After he spend most of his time talking about how Bret Hart deserves getting screwed by him and how he will gleefully do it again, he called out Bret to face him in the ring. Bret's theme music promptly played, which brought Shawn into shock... Only for Bret to not come out. It was only then that the fans, who was led to believe that Bret will return to the WWE for the first time since 1997, realized that Shawn had trolled them big time.
Shawn: Got your hopes up just a little bit, didn't I?!
- To make matters worse for the Montreal crowd, he did the same stunt again with Hulk Hogan's theme music minutes later.
Shawn: The first time, sure, maybe I was cruel. The second time, all you do is show that Montreal is every thing I ever said it was. You Canucks are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
- To make matters worse for the Montreal crowd, he did the same stunt again with Hulk Hogan's theme music minutes later.
- In Dawn of War II: Retribution's Chaos campaign, Eliphas and his band are ambushed by Blood Raven scouts. Eliphas pretends to be worried as he slaughters the Loyalists with ease.
- In one ending, the boss fight with Photoshop Flowey has him undergoing a Villainous Breakdown when you've seemingly defeated him, then suddenly reloading to an earlier save, mocking the protagonist for falling for it. Unfortunately for him, the souls he's enslaved rally against him shortly afterwards, and he has a genuine Oh, Crap! moment and breakdown.
- Another ending has the same character feign shock at the number of people rallied to defeat him, then subduing them all with ease.
"I can't believe it!! [beat, evil grin] I can't believe you're all so stupid."
- Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque : La Série Abrégée: Shaka does this when receiving Ikki's attack.
Shaka: Oh nooo! Aaaaaaaaaah! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Ikki: My god, your screams of terror really are pathetic!
Shaka: Aaaaaaah [his scream suddenly turns into a laugh], yeah, just kidding. [sends Ikki's attack back at him]
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
- Gohan uses a Kamehame Hadoken to pin down Frieza, who lampshades the irony of such a powerful villain being defeated by a mere child. Then he chuckles and adds "Just kidding," deflecting the beam away without harm.
- After Cell gets a large part of his body blown off by Vegeta's Final Flash, he humors Vegeta's ego a bit by pretending to be injured and taken aback before using his Healing Factor to restore it all and take the wind out of Vegeta's sails.
Cell: You think this is funny? [Vegeta laughs] YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY? [Vegeta laughs louder] IT'S NOT AS FUNNY... as your face. [heals himself]
- Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Abridged: When Berserker is seemingly slain by Saber's Excalibur, Illya sarcastically pretends to be worried about it, seconds before the giant regenerates.
Illya: Oh noooooooo, Berserker's dead! What will I do?
- In The Nostalgia Critic's parody of the Darth Vader scene from Rogue One, the last rebel from the team Vader just slaughtered drops his blaster and tries to take on Vader bare-handed, only for Vader to react with this trope.
Vader: Oh, I'm so scared! Darth Vader's gonna die from your pussy fists! Oh, wait. I forgot. I can choke a bitch. [Force-chokes the rebel]
- This is often used by Bugs Bunny. A good example is "Hold The Lion Please", where he does a hilariously over-the-top display of fear after meeting a rather goofy lion. Also seen, albeit briefly, in "Operation: Rabbit", when Wile E. Coyote makes his intention to eat him quite clearly and Bugs dons a faux-terror expression before going back to being unimpressed.
- In Gravity Falls, after Bill Cipher manages to enter our world and initiate Weirdmageddon, Time Baby arrives to confront him about it and delivers him an ultimatum. Bill sarcastically pretends to be worried about it, before using his newfound power to obliterate Time Baby in one hit.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Keep Calm and Flutter On", Princess Celestia tasks Fluttershy with trying to reform Discord and teach him the meaning of friendship. Fluttershy tries to keep Discord in line with "The Stare", and Discord's reaction is to feign horror before cracking up laughing.
- In the Superman: The Animated Series crossover episode "World's Finest", the Joker pulls a trap to attract Superman to him and expose him to Kryptonite, only for Superman to expect this and bring his Kryptonite-Proof Suit. When realizing this, Joker appears shocked and seemingly just surrenders, expressing surprise about how the plan he had so well prepared failed... then reveals that he did expect this and had brought acid to pierce through the suit.